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Section 1983

General

A person states a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 if he alleges that the defendant deprived him of a constitutional right while acting “under color” of state law.

Specifically, § 1983 provides that:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia.

Limitation Period and Filing Requirements

In actions under Section 1983, a court must ascertain the analogous underlying cause of action under state law and apply the applicable statute of limitations. There is no requirement to file with the EEOC or administrative agencies before instituting a Section 1983 action in court.

Jurisdiction

In order to state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege a violation of rights secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States, and that such violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law.

Remedies and Damages

Section 1983 permits victims of employment discrimination to obtain a jury trial at which both equitable and legal relief, including compensatory and, under certain circumstances, punitive damages may be awarded. Johnson v. Railway Express Agency, Inc., 421 U.S. 454 (1975).

More Information

Section 1983 Articles

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